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Review: Acherontas - 15 Years Anniversary of Left Hand Path Esoterica
Acherontas
www.myspace.com/acherontas
15 Years Anniversary of Left Hand Path Esoterica

Label: Darker than Black Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 144:18
Tracks: 23
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: November 5, 2011
Reviewed by: Memnarch
Readers Rating
for:
15 Years Anniversary of Left Hand Path Esoterica

Rated 3/5 (60%) (4 Votes)
Review


Greece has an extremely strong pedigree when it comes to quality underground black metal. Bands such as Varathron, Necromantia, Naer Mataron and Zemial among others have helped forge an undeniably important and oft overlooked scene in black metal. Acherontas itself is a relatively new venture, but are by no means newcomers to the Greek sphere, arguably stalwarts themselves having been around in one incarnation or another since their initiation as Worship in 1996. It's not Greek black metal in the traditional mould; one listen to their previous project Stutthof will tell you that. Whereas bands like Necromantia and Varathron have that warm, bassy Hellenic sound, Acherontas adopt a rather more ‘Swedish' sound while incorporating their own Greek mythology and various occult and spiritual themes. 15 Years Anniversary of Left Hand Path Esoterica contains four of their releases. Both albums Theosis and Tat Tvam Asi, and the two splits with Leviathan and Necromantia. So at the very least, you can't complain about the value for money here.

The first album Tat Tvam Asi (Universal Omniscience), bears a lot in common with Stutthof, not quite as raw but still as vast and as downright abrasive as before. The guitar work is thick and scathing, the rolling riffing obliterating everything beneath it, the drumming is pedal to the metal and Acherontas' vocals are absolutely ferocious. And the best part about it is? The fact they still manage to mantain an underlying melody throughout the whole album, and when those deep spoken word vocals appear, Tat Tvam Asi at times just couldn't sound any more epic. They're so fucking cheesy, but so good. It's constantly morphing from one manifestation to another, never repeats itself and never leaves you with the chance to get bored, more impressive given the length of the album.

With an opener such as the title track, which bears a resemblance to Stutthof's "Wampyric Metamorphosis" (one of the most barbaric and uncompromising black metal songs you'll ever hear) to the grandiose, swaggering epic of "Kali-Yuga" and the intensity of "The Dreamer" with Acherontas' spoken vocals making it sound like some sort of sermon, TTT is a great example of authentic and chaotic black metal. It isn't completely without flaws though, one or two of the tracks drag a touch, and there are a couple of pointless instrumental tracks, but the vast majority of TTT is a tidal wave of pure unrelenting evil. The final four tracks on the first CD are off the Leviathan split, production remarkably worse, of which "Kornugia" is the only track worth anything. Fierce, hell-bent riffing for the grand majority before mutating into a sublime piece of guitar twiddling that sees the song to the finish.

Theosis, the second album here, is the weaker of the two. It doesn't quite have that ‘sweltering' atmosphere TTT does. It's a bit straighter up as well, although with tracks such as "Pestilence of Mortality" which is an absolute behemoth of a song, wall to wall of grinding riffs and thundering vocals, it's still hard to complain. A special mention must go out to "Legacy of Tiamat" though, its echoing intro giving way to a piledriver of dense riffing, blasting drums and those spoken vocals which get me every single time. It's occult and epic in every sense, and without a doubt the highlight of the two discs. The final track on disc two is off the split with Necromantia, a huge number clocking in at seventeen minutes comprising of three movements, beginning with some creepy voices before the headbanging riffs and Acherontas' huge vocals return. It's impressive, though let down slightly by a shitty snare drum.

In the grand scheme of things, you'd be hard pressed to find a better collection of traditional black metal retaining the ethics and semblance of mystery of yesteryear, yet still incorporating its own unique identity at the same time. At times enigmatic and downright obscure and others flat out rabid, Fifteen Years is a glorification of everything occult, black metal that keeps you on your toes and as blistering as Satan's sandals. Two words: buy it!

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